October 5, 2020

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Caitlin Harper

Hoping To Start Therapy? Here Are The Best Tips From Our Community

There are plenty of reasons people are hesitant to start therapy, from mental health impostor syndrome to social stigma to finances and more. If you’ve been thinking about starting therapy but you’re not quite sure where to begin, we’re here to help! We polled our Instagram community about their best tips for what to do when you’re thinking about going to therapy. Here’s what they said.

There are plenty of reasons people are hesitant to start therapy, from mental health impostor syndrome to social stigma to finances and more. If you’ve been thinking about starting therapy but you’re not quite sure where to begin, we’re here to help!

We polled our Instagram community about their best tips for what to do when you’re thinking about going to therapy. Here’s what they said.

Do some planning ahead of your therapy appointments and practice self-care afterward

Before you even choose a therapist, you can use your phone consultation to ask your potential therapist questions. “Write down what your problems are and what your goals are,” said a community member.

Whatever your goals are: communicate them to your therapist! Don’t be afraid to speak up if you find you’re not focusing on what you want to be during your session. Instead, find ways to remind yourself of why you wanted to see a therapist in the first place.

“Write down a summary of what you learned after each session so you can remember,” another community member said. Getting into the habit of writing anything down that feels meaning-making, centering, clarifying, inspiring, or helpful will exponentially improve your chances of being able to master the skills and understandings from your session to apply them in your everyday life—which is when therapy is at its most effective.

“Self care post-therapy doesn't need to be a face mask and chocolate,” another community member pointed out. “It can be an early night and a walk.” Self care looks different for everybody. If you want to set up a preventative self care practice, here are some tips to help you.

You and your first therapist might not be a perfect match, and that’s okay

“Not every therapist is for you!” a member of our community said. “Date around.” Rapport is responsible for over 70% of why therapy works. Accordingly, the process of finding the right therapist can sometimes feel a bit like dating. You may need to go on a few first dates before you find someone who you would like to see a second time, despite each therapist seeming like a puzzle-piece-fit on paper.

Many members of our community found it empowering that they got to choose their therapist. At the end of the day, the choice is yours and you have to do what feels best for you. “Don't be discouraged if you don't click with a therapist,” our community said. “Listen to yourself and be patient. You may not click with the first therapist and that is okay.”

Even our CEO, Alyssa, said, “it took me six years and several previous therapy attempts to find my current therapist, who I appreciate, respect, and sincerely feel I connect with. Week by week, I am learning, growing, and changing for the better.”

It can sound a little daunting to shop around, which is exactly the reason MyWellbeing exists! Our personalized matching gives you three potential therapists to make it easier to find your perfect match.

That being said, even if you and your therapist are a great match, you won’t always agree

“You don't have to agree with everything your therapist says,” one community member pointed out. It might feel like your therapist is supposed to have all of the answers and that you’re supposed to defer to them, but that is not the case. “You don't need to take on their perspective,” one community member said. “Yours and theirs can co-exist.”

And don’t be afraid to give your therapist feedback. People are often hesitant to tell their therapists that there is something missing or that there is something about the therapy that they do not like. We may be afraid or embarrassed to give our therapists feedback. Or maybe we’re simply giving them the benefit of the doubt. However, being candid with your therapist can yield much gain for you, both in and out of the therapy room.

You don’t have to have all of the answers, or even know exactly what to do when you’re starting therapy—or ever!

“It is ok to arrive and say I don't know what to talk about today,” one community member said. “Relax, don't be anxious. Your new therapist is there for the journey.” That’s right; your therapist is there for you, to support you on your journey. You’re not expected to have all of the answers.

Many members in our community had insight about the complicated emotions you might feel during therapy:

  • “I don't have to feel ashamed. I don't have to hold back.”
  • “It feels a little awkward at first; you don't get better right away. It takes time.”
  • “Don't feel bad showing emotions.”

“I wasn't there because I had done wrong,” one community member said. “I was there due to love and care and to move forward.”

Therapy can be hard and emotional, but it’s worth it

“Do not go into it expecting them to ‘fix’ you,” one community member cautioned. “You have to put in the work yourself.”

There might be some tears, but everyone said that it’s worth it:

  • I was surprised by “how much crying I would do before the healing.”
  • “It will be exhausting. You will cry a lot and it will feel worth it.”
  • “It will be hard but so so worth it.”
  • “It is not always easy. Sometimes it is difficult to face certain things, but it is always worth it.”

Therapy is hard work, and it can be quite painful at times. But, if you really want to heal, evolve, and thrive in your life, there are no shortcuts. Chances are, at some point in your therapeutic journey, you will have a disappointing experience. Hopefully you can process that experience and learn from it. And even when you do find the right therapist, there are going to be days you find challenging, but the insight you gain will last a lifetime.

You can reduce stress by setting yourself up for success

One community member sagely pointed out that they wished they had known how to set up their camera before beginning teletherapy! Little details like that might escape us when we’re nervous or in pain, so build in some time before your appointments as a buffer so you don’t feel rushed.

If you’re going to appointments in person, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to arrive and if you’re doing teletherapy, you can check out these tips for how to create privacy while doing teletherapy at home.

You therapist might judge you, but not in the way you might think

Our community mentioned a fear of being judged as one of the main reasons it took them so long to start therapy. But, as our CEO, Alyssa, says, humans are equipped with the ability to judge: to gain or perceive information and to draw hypotheses or conclusions. Your therapist may be judging you. But they are your biggest advocate.

And so many people in our community said that they don’t feel judged by their therapists at all, which is amazing. Your therapist is there to listen and be present for you. It can be hard to hear some of the things that might come up in your conversations with them, but as Alyssa says, they will share with you the things you may not have even realized you needed to hear.

A tip that was shared over and over by our community is: if you’re thinking about going to therapy, just go

Is your gut telling you that you should see a therapist? If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, it might be time to take the first step and find out if it’s right for you.

“Have an open mind and just get started,” they said. “Just go!” There was definitely a sense of hope in all of the tips. And as one of our community members said, “Don't. Be. Afraid!!”

Starting therapy is hard, but hopefully these tips and insight from our community can help you get started. And if you’re ready to find your perfect match, we’re here to help.

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About the author

Caitlin is MyWellbeing's Content Lead, a writer, speaker, communication coach, and the founder of Commcoterie, a communication consultancy. She teaches teams how to use professional coaching communication techniques in their everyday conversations, helps leaders engage their teams with effective and inclusive communication, and partners with service providers to activate their programs and offerings with their own clients through inspiring communication strategies. Find out more, including how to work with her, at www.commcoterie.com.

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